Christian Retailing

Christian music sales see 'modest growth' Print Email
Written by Eric Tiansay   
Friday, 26 April 2013 01:00 AM America/New_York

Christian music sales have seen a slight uptick as the entire music industry has posted its first revenue growth in 13 years.

"Overall, the Christian/gospel sales revenue has been relatively flat, with modest growth over the last two years," Capitol Christian Distribution Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Greg Bays told Christian Retailing. "Revenues are generally up, with growth driven by audio and video streaming—including subscription services, which have grown considerably."

Earlier this year, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) revealed that global revenues rose 0.3% in 2012 to $16.5 billion, The Hollywood Reporter reported. Although the revenue bump was modest, IFPI said that it was the first sign of industry growth since 1999.

Another study from the NPD Group said that music file sharing declined "significantly" in 2012, noting a 26% drop in illegally downloaded music.

Bays said physical sales still account for two-thirds of total units sold in Christian music.

"So, as many others have noted, reports of the alleged death of the physical CD have been highly exaggerated," said Bays, former chairman of the Christian Music Trade Association, which tracks the sales of Christian music. "Although growth in digital formats is expected to continue to outpace physical sales, there is still a lot of Christian/gospel music business to capture in the physical retail space."

Christian music had its best year on the Billboard 200 last year, with five Top 10 chart debuts, including albums by TobyMac, David Crowder Band, Kari Jobe, Passion and Lecrae.

Bays noted that 2013 has started off with several Billboard 200 Top 10 debuts, including Chris Tomlin's Burning Lights (sixstepsrecords/Capitol), which debuted at No. 1 as did TobyMac's Eye On It (ForeFront Records/Capitol) last year; Hillsong United's Zion (Hillsong Music/Capitol); and Passion: Let the Future Begin (sixstepsrecords/Capitol).

"In addition, Colton Dixon's A Messenger [Sparrow Records/Capitol], delivered the best street-week sales for a contemporary Christian artist in SoundScan history," Bays said. "With many other key releases coming across the industry throughout 2013, this should be yet another strong year."

Read the full report in the upcoming June issue of Christian Retailing.